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Famous Kansans » Arts » Fine Art

Architecture

John G. Haskell

  • Born: February 5, 1832
  • Died: November 25, 1907
  • Connection to Kansas: Lived in Lawrence

Achievement:

John G. Haskell was one of the few architects in the early territorial days of Kansas. He was appointed architect of the Kansas Capitol in 1867 and oversaw the construction of the east wing. He designed many other buildings throughout Kansas.

John G. Haskell image
John G. Haskell
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society

Drawing / Painting

John Steuart Curry

  • Born: November 14, 1897
  • Died: August 29, 1946
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Dunavant

Achievement:

John Steurt Curry was an artist who was noted for his painting depicting life in Kansas. He painted the murals in the Kansas Capitol building and his most famous work his depiction of John Brown titled Tragic Prelude which is located next to the governor's office.

John Steuart Curry image
John Steuart Curry
Photo by Rudolf Hoffman

Aaron Douglas

  • Born: May 26, 1899
  • Died: February 3, 1979
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Topeka

Achievement:

Aaron Douglas was the most prominent African-American artist of the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1920s. A modernist style painter, he was dubbed the "Father of African-American Art."

Aaron Douglas image
Aaron Douglas
Photo courtesy of Fine Art America

Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton

  • Born: October 27, 1909
  • Died: March 15, 1993
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wellsville

Achievement:

Grandma Layton began creating "blind" contour drawings at the age of 68 that gained national attention and culminated with a one-woman show at the Smithsonians's National Museum of American Art. Her work has been displayed in more than 200 art museums throughout the United States.

Elizabeth 'Grandma' Layton image
Grandma Layton
Photo courtesy of the Lawrence Journal-World

Birger Sandzén

  • Born: February 5, 1871
  • Died: June 19, 1954
  • Connection to Kansas: Lived in Lindsborg

Achievement:

Birger Sandzén was an artist who is best known for his landscape paintings of the American Southwest. He produced most of his artwork during his 52-year career as an art professor at Bethany College in Lindsborg. Bethany College dedicated the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery on the college campus in his honor.

Birger Sandzen image
Birger Sandzén
Photo courtesy of the Sven Birger Sandzen Gallery of Art

Mort Walker

  • Born: September 3, 1923
  • Died: January 27, 2018
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in El Dorado

Achievement:

Mort Walker is a cartoon artist who created the Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois newspaper comic strips. He founded the National Cartoon Museum, the first museum devoted to the art of comics.

Mort Walker image
Mort Walker
Mort Walker Studios

Rudolph "Rudy" Wendelin

  • Born: February 27, 1910
  • Died: August 31, 2000
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Herndon

Achievement:

Rudy Wendelin was the artist who made the Smokey the Bear character famous for the U.S. Forest Service through his promotional posters and other drawings.

Rudy Wendelin image
Rudy Wendelin
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

Photography

William M. Gallagher

  • Born: February 27, 1910
  • Died: September 28, 1975
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Hiawatha

Achievement:

William Gallagher was a photographer who won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Photography for his photo of ex-Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson with a hole in his shoe taken during the 1952 Presidential campaign.

William Gallagher image
William M. Gallagher
Photo courtesy of the The Flint Journal

Gordon Parks

  • Born: November 30, 1912
  • Died: March 7, 2006
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Fort Scott

Achievment:

Gordon Parks was a groundbreaking photographer, musician, writer and film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life magazine. He was also a co-founder of Essence magazine. He was named "Magazine Photographer of the Year" in 1961 by the American Society of Magazine Photos and in 1972 was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colord People (NAACP).

See also under Performance.

Gordon Parks image
Gordon Parks
Photo courtesy of Time, Inc.

Sculpture

Blackbear Bosin

  • Born: June 5, 1921
  • Died: August 9, 1980
  • Connection to Kansas: Lived in Wichita

Achievement:

Blackbear Bosin was a Native American sculptor and painter of Comanche-Kiowa descent. He was the artist who created Wichita's iconic Keeper of the Plains statue on the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers and also created the logo for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant.

Blackbear Bosin image
Blackbear Bosin
Photo by Howard Eastwood

Pete Felten

  • Born: 1933
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Hays

Achievement:

Pete Felten is a sculpture artist whose famous works include the Monarch of the Plains in Hays and the Four Kansans in the rotunda of the Capitol building.

Pete Felten image
Pete Felten
Painting by Bruce Burkholder

Waylande Gregory

  • Born: 1905
  • Died: 1971
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Baxter Springs

Achievement:

Waylande Gregory was an innovative and prolific ceramic sculptor that created groundbreaking techniques for creating large ceramic sculpture and developed revolutionary glazing and processing methods. He was one of the key sculptors in the American art-deco movement.

Waylande Gregory image
Waylande Gregory
Photo courtesy of the Pittsburg State University Leonard H. Axe Library

Stan Herd

  • Born: 1950
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Protection

Achievement:

Stan Herd is a noted crop artist who creates earthworks on large areas of land that when seen from above appear as paintings on the ground. He has created numerous earthworks including portraits of Kiowa War Chief Satanta, Amelia Earhart and Will Rogers.

Stan Herd image
Stan Herd
Photo by Matt Carr / Getty Images